Are you a volunteer? The world is a busy place and, if you take the time to look around, you’ll realize that there are all sorts of needs around us every day.
Sometimes those needs are fulfilled by people who volunteer their time simply to help others. By giving freely of their time, many volunteers pay it forward and help to encourage others to volunteer their time as well.
Many volunteers work at the local level. This means they might volunteer in local schools, churches or other organizations. But did you know that it’s also possible to volunteer on a national and even global level?
The Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by a United States government agency with the same name. Established by an Executive Order issued by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, the Peace Corps has sent over 215,000 volunteers to serve in 139 different countries. The original inspiration for the Peace Corps was a volunteer organization called Operation Crossroads Africa founded by Reverend James H. Robinson.
As set forth in the Peace Corps Act passed by Congress in 1961, the purpose of the Peace Corps is “to promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower.”
Peace Corps volunteers are U.S. citizens that usually have a college degree. After a three-month training program, they travel to other countries to volunteer for two years. At the end of two years, they can leave the Peace Corps or request an extension of service.
Volunteers can engage in many different types of work. Common issues volunteers help with include education, hunger, technology, agriculture and the environment. Volunteers may find themselves working with governments, schools, non-profit organizations or private businesses.
Through their work, Peace Corps volunteers try to fulfill the three goals of the Peace Corps: (1) providing technical assistance; (2) helping people from other countries to understand United States culture; and (3) helping United States citizens to understand other countries’ cultures.